Over the course of its first two seasons, GLOW has brought neon authenticity to its depiction of the 1980s. Led by overzealous actress Ruth (Allison Brie) and struggling mother Debbie (Betty Gilpin), these Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling have been brought to life with Back to the Future references, leg warmers, and a dissection of the enduring struggles of women in male-dominated industries. Yet one of the show's most beloved period details has been its steady playlist of spot-on song selections.
When last we left the GLOW women, they were headed for their Las Vegas destiny, accompanied by the propulsive, emotional power of Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now." From the looks of season three's trailer, which is set to Roxette's "Listen to Your Heart," it looks as though the needle drops won't be slowing down anytime soon as the stakes get higher. Before Season 3 drops on August 9th, here's a look back at the show's best musical moments so far…
10. "Crazy for You" by Madonna
Season 2, Episode 9: "Rosalie"
Ruth and Sam (Marc Maron) serve as prom chaperones, and their fledgling flirtation comes to the surface during a dance to this most quintessential of prom songs. Just hearing it makes you wish you were back in high school, dancing with your crush at prom. Listen to it now and try to tell me I'm wrong. If fans don't buy a potential Ruth/Sam courtship — and unfortunately, some of us don't — this song at least does the heavy lifting to bring the audience as close as they'll ever get.
9. "Rock You Like a Hurricane" by Scorpions
Season 1, Episode 5: "Debbie Does Something"
Sure, this is an inevitable song choice for a show about televised wrestling, but instead of more obvious narrative uses, the Scorpions' 1984 staple announces Debbie (Betty Gilpin) as a force to be reckoned with as she sizes herself up in the mirror, looking as though she's ready to tackle someone. And the song only increases your desire to see her do exactly that.
8. "Sweat" by The System
Season 2, Episode 2: "Candy of the Year"
They're breakdance fighting! GLOW introduced Shakira Barrera as Yolanda in the second season with this showcase of era-appropriate dance moves, while Ruth naturally played a welcoming teammate. Yolanda may not have made it onto the mainstage that much, but she certainly influenced the ladies' sense of humor when they were pushed to late night.
7. "Dare" by Stan Bush
Season 1, Episode 7: "Live Studio Audience"
As a rule, sports narratives don't exist without montages, so naturally GLOW has several. This may be its most triumphant, with Debbie and Ruth really working together for the first time since their split as friends, learning new moves to make their first show with an audience a success. Plus, a stealth Transformers: The Movie reference? Hell yeah!
6. "Man on the Corner" by Genesis
Season 2, Episode 9: "Rosalie"
Chris Lowell is one of GLOW's underrated standouts, and he played the slow revelation of his unspoken homesexuality gracefully over the first two seasons (with Bronski Beat's "Smalltown Boy" accompanying his first gay bar experience earlier in the season). But here, we discover that his former butler and presumed lover Florian has died of AIDS, and this Genesis track with Phil Collins on vocals painfully signals Bash's isolation.
5. "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" by Journey
Season 1, Episode 1: "Pilot"
Where other series and movies think Journey starts with "Don't Stop Believin'" and ends with "Any Way You Want It," GLOW tells you exactly what kind of show it is by first dipping into their songbook with "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)." It establishes the drama of Debbie and Ruth's contentious relationship, one that will continue to play out on and off the mat, with a glorious fantasy sequence. Just as it laments the loss of what could have been for these two friends, it shows the promise of what they're creating could eventually become.
4. "Invincible" by Pat Benatar
Season 1, Episode 10: "Money's in the Chase"
In the first season's finale, Debbie makes a surprise return to the ring, dismissing her condescending husband (Rich Somer) in the process. Of course, it was all planned, making the moment even more satisfying, while pulling one over on the audience (along with Sam). But there's an added subtext here: most of the season's music has been typical male power anthems, but in this crucial moment, we get a female voice in Benatar's theme from The Legend of Billie Jean.
3. "All I Need to Get By" by Aretha Franklin
Season 2, Episode 4: "Mother of All Matches"
GLOW's soundtrack isn't all power ballads and pop songs, just as the series itself isn't all ‘80s riffs and spandex. There is real pathos on this show, and this was one of the more emotionally attuned musical moments across both seasons. One of GLOW's most organically built connections is between Debbie and Tammé (Kia Stevens), drawn together by their mutual understanding as mothers. Together, they share a musical moment, clinging to their sons after battling in the ring, a moment that was restorative for Tammé and heartbreaking for Debbie.
2. "Don't Kidnap" by the cast of GLOW
Season 2, Episode 8: "The Good Twin"
GLOW should have received an original song Emmy nomination for this hilarious spoof of ‘80s "We Are the World"-style anthems. The song appeared in the genius standalone episode that gave viewers a taste of what a fictional installment of the GLOW TV show might look like in all its sketch-adjacent glory. In addition to the episode's also-great Samantha Fox wannabe "Makeover," this number smartly pokes fun at ‘80s music video aesthetics, while simultaneously delighting in them. It also take full advantage of the cast’s legitimately talented singers Kate Nash and American Idol semi-finalist Jackie Tohn.
1. "The Warrior" by Patty Smyth
Season 1, Episode 1: "Pilot"
Perhaps the most obvious entry in this list, but also the most necessary. The art of the theme song has died in recent years. Buy while television has largely left the earnestness of such things behind, this perfect (and I mean perfect) theme song selection captures both the spirit of television in the ‘80s and the show's badass women overcoming the obstacles in their lives. Even as most GLOW episodes eschew a more classic open to make time for bodyslams, “The Warrior” still blares in the background somewhere, shooting out the walls of heartache.
People are talking about GLOW in our forums. Join the conversation.
Chris Feil is a freelancer writer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His previous work can be found at Vulture, Vice, Paste, and The Film Experience. Follow him @chrisvfeil on Twitter.
TOPICS: GLOW, Netflix, Music and TV